Should You Beta Test?

Beta testing could be a crucial tool in your belt for any environment. Should you pick it up?
Should You Beta Test?

The Introduction

Most modern operating systems have beta versions or developer versions. Ideally, it's meant for actual devs to test upcoming software to make sure there are no issues upon release. However, it could be a good thing for technicians/engineers to beta test before release as well.

What Am I Referring To?

Good question. Mainly referring to MacOS, Windows, iOS, and Android, however, that's not to say that Xbox or PlayStation would be excluded from this mix. Nowadays, it's commonplace for companies to have their users beta test for them as it helps bring to light issues faster than previously would have taken. This allows companies to maintain a steady release schedule and allows users to receive compliant upgrades faster than previously attempted.

This Depends On Your Environment

Your environment is the deciding factor. My perspective is that you should always test and check out what is new. Looking ahead all the features sound great, but will it affect your environment? The theory here is that upon release of a new OS or even new hardware upgrades could drastically change your dynamic in an instant.

How To Get Started?

Many OS manufacturers have the ability to sign up for their beta programs. It depends on your stack and hardware but traditionally Windows doesn't care (except for Windows 11) and Apple is a closed ecosystem. I believe with Windows you just need to be a Windows Insider. In an enterprise environment, you should be able to get access to the latest build for enterprise easily through your EA with Microsoft. You can also sign up to be a Windows Insider as well.

This year is a first for Apple. Traditionally, you would need to have some agreement with Apple (AppleSeed or Apple Developer) in order to gain access to the betas, however, Apple has opened it up for everyone, and all you need to do is sign into iCloud and change the Update Release to Developer Beta.

What To Look For?

This is an excellent question and one that has been plaguing me for a long time. If you have suggestions, I am all ears. Ideally, you want to test with a few devices, a few users, and very specific conditions that match your environment. You want to look for anything that would be considered deployment blockers. You should have a list that you can check off to make sure that your tests are successful.

Most environments have very specific hardware, or software that if not regularly checked up on, could not work in the next release or build of the Operating System. If you are using some form of Management like an MDM or MECM, there could be things that could cause chaos if not addressed.

For instance: SCEP certificates are not deploying in iOS 17 Beta 1 and Beta 2. Not sure what the issue is, however, we have determined it's iOS 17. Bug reports and a ticket has been submitted. Hopefully, Apple is working on a fix.

Make It A Testing Standard

It's no secret that updates, and betas are a thing. It comes down to whether are you willing to take that plunge. If you need to speak with upper management about it, then make a template. Find out who does what, and how things are processed. If you have a ticketing system or a task manager then you can use that to document your process.

It's good to do an internal software/hardware review, especially when there is something new that could be potentially used within your environment. It's also good to find a few test users that could provide feedback and help submit bug reports.

The best practice would be to delay software upgrades a minimum of 30 days for testing or deployment. Though for security and patching, you should be doing that every two weeks.

The Conclusion

Thank you for reading the article. It was my hope to help shed some light on the need for testing regardless of what your environment is. Generally speaking, most manufacturers will already have a working beta ready for testing so the majority of the bugs would have been worked it. Now they are just making sure they can polish it. They also do this to give developers time to invent when new features get released.

Full Disclosure

Most of this article is comprised of facts and opinions. The featured background image was created by andyoneru and is available on Unsplash. I added a blur and a gradient overlay with some text.

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